From about 9 AM until 2 PM, I am often feeling utterly overwhelmed and strung out and filled with shameful second thoughts and portents of doom over this whole new-baby thing. Those are the hours during which Dylan does not seem to nap at all, but instead spends his time fussing angrily, eating nonstop, and fussing some more. I am embarrassed to admit I have already asked my 2-week-old just what in the blue FUCK his problem is, and as long as I’m being brutally honest I’ll tell you I didn’t exactly ask this in a soft and gentle whisper.

I feel very very whiny about the current state of things, frankly. I feel like doing some of my own fussing, just lying in the corner of the room emoting over the fact that a 8-lb nuclear bomb has been dropped into the middle of my existence. I don’t know how to say this or explain it without sounding horrible, but maybe some of you can understand: I have learned that it’s possible to simultaneously love someone with all of your heart and know without a doubt that he was meant to be a part of your life, and also sometimes regret the decision to invite him to the party, so to speak.

I knew things were going to be hard, but perhaps not surprisingly it doesn’t actually make things LESS hard to have the heads up in advance. I am struggling, struggling with finding patience and dealing with the soul-crushing boredom and the endlessly unrewarding effort it takes to care for a newborn. Maybe I’ve gotten so used to Riley, a walking, talking, interactive creature, that returning to the primal state of eat-poop-fuss-sleep is harder for me to handle this time around. Maybe I’ve come to relish my tiny amounts of free time so very much that having them unceremoniously ripped away is a bigger challenge than I could have predicted. Maybe Dylan’s more of a pain in the ass than his brother was.

I don’t know. I do know things will get better, and I know I love both my boys and I am so lucky to have them. But still. STILL. This is still rough going, no matter how you cut it.

In less whimpery news:

1) That all-morning fuss routine Dylan’s in could certainly be a lot worse. For instance, it could be from 9 PM to 2 AM. And so far he’s been very good about sleeping at night: I feed him at around 11, 2:30, 5:30, and 7:30 before getting up for the day. It’s not exactly suck-free, that schedule, but it does let us get enough sleep to function.

2) That whole turbo barfing situation? Uh, so it turns out we were basically milk-bonging the kid. Smaller nipple hole = less frantic gulping = no more projectile spitups. God, you’d think I was NEW at this shit, or something.

Mama’s little PITA. Who I love very very much, even if I do complain about him.


132 Responses to “Flailing but still above water”

  1. Laura on February 22nd, 2008 8:27 am

    You are so refreshing! I always feel so bad when I tell my husband that our 6 yr old daughter is a raging bitch. Yeah, she hears and understands that stuff now so I can’t say it to her face, at least not until she’s about 15, right?

  2. SemiDesperate Housewife on February 22nd, 2008 8:49 am

    It makes me feel so much better to read this post, and the comments about it. I have felt guilty countless times since giving birth to my son that I wasn’t feeling more in love, more blissful, and was instead feeling tired and, above all, resentful. Of a BABY! Whom I CHOSE to have!
    It’s just hard. I braced myself over and over for how hard it would be to have two kids under three, and, like you said, knowing doesn’t make it less hard.
    Eli will be six months old next week, and I am just now feeling like we are full-on bonding. I remember feeling so lovestruck those first few days immediately following his birth, and then going home and all that giddy love getting lost in the sleeplessness and chaos. But it returned with the beginning of his smiles and responsiveness and fish-mouth kisses. So, it will return. The magic of having a little one to cuddle will find you again, I promise.
    In the meantime, esp. since you aren’t nursing, I suggest finding yourself a little bottle of chardonnay.

  3. FishyGirl on February 22nd, 2008 8:54 am

    I have four, and frankly there isn’t one of them I haven’t cussed out at least once in the first few weeks, and none of them seem any worse for wear for it now. You have to just go into survival mode really for about 2 months. I promise, promise, promise it gets easier, but I know that is soooooo hard to keep in mind when you are in the depths of it. We’ve all been there – we may not talk about it much, but we’ve ALL been there, and it sucks. You’re not alone and you are completely normal.

    And milk-bong? You are a genius. And funny.

  4. Becky on February 22nd, 2008 9:00 am

    I asked my 3 month old the same thing last night…then I begged thru tears for at least one hour of sleep….I love that you can write what I feel!!!!!!

  5. Laura on February 22nd, 2008 9:20 am

    God, have we all been there! Anyone who tells you they haven’t had those same feelings is either a damn liar or a robot. It does get better (although I did want to know how my 11 month old became possesed by the devil yesterday- my love for him was for a moment on a low ebb.) Until then, don’t worry about doing anything but getting through the day and surviving. Hang in there.

  6. Kate on February 22nd, 2008 9:22 am

    I just have one 7-month old, so what do I know, although I certainly can sympathize. When my daughter was a tiny newborn my husband used to call her a “little jerk”. It sounds awful, but it was (mostly) loving. It’s just that the newborn stage can be so awfully frustrating.

  7. Jennifer on February 22nd, 2008 9:44 am

    Getting in line to say hang in there Linda. And to compliment you on that beautiful boy -him is practically pretty!

  8. Val on February 22nd, 2008 9:55 am

    They always say you forget the awful stuff and remember the great stuff. Having it forced back into your brain has to be the pits. Hang in there. Soon he will be walking and talking and you will wonder where the time went. . . At least you admit that isn’t not all peaches and cream.

  9. Stephanie on February 22nd, 2008 10:00 am

    OMG..milk-bonging! I just had a Raider game flashback but not so much with milk.

    You have a great support system..hang in there.

  10. Carrie F. on February 22nd, 2008 10:35 am

    I’m 6.5 months pregnant with my first and I’m so relieved to hear someone finally being honest. I know that its not going to be roses and daisies with a newborn. At least I won’t be shocked when I have my little girl and I’m having the same feelings as so many other millions of women.

  11. Kari on February 22nd, 2008 11:14 am

    No assvice or suggestions, just wanted to remark that your site is almost the opposite of most “mommy blogs.” I don’t know how you managed to do that, but you did, and that is quite an accomplishment.

    And also that I really admire you for being so honest about the harder side of motherhood, and in such a straightforward manner. You have developed such a unique and engaging voice and I suspect that you have no idea how much people value the style and substance of your words.

    We all know you will get through this, of course, and I hope you get a few moments of much needed peace in the interim.

  12. erin on February 22nd, 2008 11:20 am

    I absolutely LOVE how you write exactly what I feel/think in some situations. I’ve been there, with the whole newborn thing and “why can’t you talk already like your big sister and TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!” It’s not easy, no, but you already know it’s definitely worth it. I feel for you! It’ll get better. Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Caroline on February 22nd, 2008 11:42 am

    I remember feeling so homesick the first month or so with my newborn daughter – not as in “missing my home” but really missing my old life and the way things were. That pit in your stomach. You love your child and all that, but it’s kind of like, “Wait! Wait! I changed my mind! This isn’t what I was expecting!” Because we get used to a situation and when it changes, it takes awhile to adjust. I feel for you! It will definitely get easier (easy for me to say, right?) and more comfortable as time goes on. Good luck and hang in there!

  14. Allison on February 22nd, 2008 12:16 pm

    You need an angel. . . . have you got a friend that could come over and tackle some loads of laundry, dishes and other household stuff some afternoon while the boys AND YOU take a nap? Small little victories like that can go a long way right now. Don’t feel shy asking for help. .. . oh and B R E A T H E. . .. seriously. .. do the woo woo bit now and then. .. just stop and take a few TOTAL breaths. It’s crazy how we forget to breathe when things are stressful.

    * sends you all the fortitude she can muster*


  15. Anna on February 22nd, 2008 12:17 pm

    In the trenches right there with you, these days. I’m at home with my second and first daughter (who at least is a preschooler) and the caring for a baby thing is kicking my ass too.

  16. Amy on February 22nd, 2008 12:33 pm

    Sounds like you crawled into my head and ripped out a memory! I had such a hard time adjusting to the schedule the second time. I used to look at my husband and ask why he did this to me, we were home free with the first one, he walked, talked, ate, why, why, why did we think this was a good idea. I had such a hard time bonding that I went to see my physician and was diagnosed with severe post partum depression. I felt like a total failure, but with some help I got better. It still wasn’t easy. Maybe it’s so hard so we don’t have #3! Built in population control. Hang in there….and thanks for making us all feel as if we aren’t alone in this crazy trip called parenthood!

  17. Stacy on February 22nd, 2008 12:48 pm

    I love you, Linda! I cannot tell you how much better your honesty makes young mothers feel! I have a 2.5 year old and another on the way and people are always asking me “are you so excited about the baby coming soon?” WHAT? I mean, I am excited to meet him, yes, and I am excited to get him OUT of my stomach. But, those first couple of months are hell. I keep trying to talk my mom into taking this one until he is 3 months old then giving him back to me. Can you hire people to do stuff like that? Surely…

  18. Andrea on February 22nd, 2008 2:21 pm

    After 117 comments, I’m sure you’ve gotten all the commiseration and advice you can handle, but I can’t help but foist my opinion on you as well.

    YES! Resounding YES! Just last night I begged my daughter, “Goddammit, sleep child!” It is hard. While I was on maternity leave (only back to work this week, and the suckitude of that is more than for the comments section) I took my 4 year old to daycare at least 3 days a week so that his routine would be somewhat intact and that I could get some one-on-one time with the baby (born Jan 3, 7 weeks old today). The days when I didn’t take the boy to the babysitters were the most trying days I can remember in his entire four years of life. The non-stop chatter. The demands and resulting tantrums for not obeying the demands so fast that such acquiescence would have required a rip in the space-time continuum. The sheer and utter lunacy of needing three more pair of hands and another arsenal of eyeballs. It is overwhelming, and my daughter is (for now) one of those mythically easy babies, content to sleep all day and doesn’t cry constantly or need to be held every second. Sure, she has her moments of fussiness and there’ve been crying jags that last a couple hours, but for the most part, she’s an agreeable baby, AND IT’S STILL FUCKING HARD!

    I wouldn’t change my mind about kid 2, because I already can’t imagine life without her. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish for the dinner to cook itself and clean itself up, and the dogs to take themselves outside, and the laundry to wash and fold itself. Part of it is that I feel guilty for not spending as much time with the baby as I was able to spend with the first baby, just because my attention has to be divided between two kids now. Can’t be helped. Doesn’t make it easy. The only thing to do is try not to beat yourself (myself) up because you’re doing your dead level best and it takes some serious adjustment. Months worth.

    But like having the first kid, there are moments of utter profound joy that go a long way to canceling out some of the misery and guilt that come into play.

  19. kali on February 22nd, 2008 2:26 pm

    Negotiate sleep time. It is amazing how much easier (okay, more bearable) it is when you occasionally get an adequate amount of sleep. Rent a grandparent or two to come to your place and take a nap whilest the rug rats are entertained and loved lots. Make it a regular thing for as long as you can. It helps. You’re doing a great job and yes, it is crushingly BORING, too. To this day whenever I see one of the Little People figures I start to yawn and have trouble keeping my eyes open.

  20. fifi on February 22nd, 2008 2:56 pm

    He’s cuuuute! He looks just like you in that picture! Well, I do understand your conflicting feelings. Just hang in there. Your sanity will come back when your youngest is about 3 1/2. But every hour brings you closer to that goal. Is there perhaps anyone who could stay with you for a while to help you out whilst simultaneously not bugging the everliving fuck out of you? Rare, but possible…Anyway, good job, love your honesty. /Fifi

  21. Heather on February 22nd, 2008 3:11 pm

    This is the exactly what keeps me on the fence whether to have or not to have kids. I can see myself doing exactly what you’re doing. I’m sure it’s very rewarding, but you can’t exactly change your mind! Ugh, thank you for being so honest. Nobody tells the childless the real story. Congrats, and keep up the good work! Your fam is gorgeous.. As in life, I’m sure it will get easier- it has to right? ;)

  22. Michelle on February 22nd, 2008 3:43 pm

    I helped out a family member for a number of weeks. Unfortunately, it was twins. With colic and reflux and problems OH MY. The three year old was nice, but she had bountiful energy supplies.

    Good luck, and hope that some quiet comes your way!

  23. Eclecta on February 22nd, 2008 5:08 pm

    Dear Linda,

    I’m not a parent but what you’ve written rings with truth. You obviously have many readers who benefit from your honesty. It seems to me that in today’s society there is so much judgment placed on parents that it’s hard for them to be honest about their struggles … and yet you have the courage to do so. You are amazing. :)

    I don’t live in the Seattle area, or I would volunteer to bring over a big pot of soup. However, I can always send you cookies! :)

    One last observation – one upside of this situation seems to be that Riley seems a lot easier to handle, no? ;-D

    Hangeth thou in there – I know you’re going to be all right! :)

  24. Lesley on February 22nd, 2008 5:13 pm

    Linda, Dooce has a post up that is very timely ;)

  25. nikki on February 22nd, 2008 6:14 pm

    Hi Linda,

    My 3 month old has her screaming routine downpat, and I can only imagine what my upstairs neighbors think when I am at the end of my rope and screaming “WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!!!! JUST SHUT UP!!!” at the top of my lungs. I have learned to tune her out unless there is a change in her pitch and “meditate” ( kind of like sleeping with your eyes open ). It has gotten better, and it will keep
    getting better. Taklking with your doc might help. Maybe there is something she can give you to take the edge off. It helped for me.

    Good luck :)

  26. Christina on February 22nd, 2008 7:32 pm

    I have a 15 month old – and all of the memories of those first few hell months must have been locked away because after reading that post they all came flooding back. And here I was, anxious to get preggers again this year lol. Now you had to go ahead and ruin it for me! ;) JK! My one big fear though…and I know you talked about it before, and I feel like an ass even asking, but is it truly possible to feel the same way about a 2nd one as you do about your 1st? I am so in love with my son, that I’m just feeling almost guilty thinking about bringing another one into the family because it will take away from #1.

  27. Sara L. on February 22nd, 2008 9:27 pm

    Thank you. No, I mean that. THANK YOU. Finally I don’t feel like quite so much of a crazed monster for screaming at my daughter to “Shut the fuck up!” in the middle of an excruciating night when she was a couple of weeks old. And as the umpteen thousand commenters before me have said, it does get better so quickly. She is ten months now, and an absolutely adorable ham. Although with the improvement in attitude and length of sleep with the baby, I am now experiencing the 3yo’s newly discovered independence tantrums. Oh god, kill me now. Gotta love having two, eh?

    Thank you, once again, and keep up the honesty.

  28. wilddreemer on February 23rd, 2008 8:34 am

    It took me about two weeks to get to this point. Only for me it ended in ugly blubbery cry, shouting at my husband, a lot of sobbing loudly WHY ME! and consuming an amount of chocolate I will never ever admit to!

  29. Kim on February 24th, 2008 10:34 am

    Imagine how I felt when number two turned out to be numbers two and three! Surprise! We ended up with twins when my daughter was 5 and although they are now 9 months and super-freaking adorable (identical girls), I still wonder sometimes….this shit is hard!! Life with one was quieter and calmer and more sane. So I’m with you sister. I just close my eyes and imagine the Sunday morning twelve years from now when they will all sleep in and leave me to my paper and breakfast in peace. Until then, my husband and I just try to laugh as much as possible. Keeps you sane.

  30. Danielle on February 24th, 2008 8:05 pm

    awww! he is just so damn cute. And really, I get the whole ‘Mother wants to eat her young’ thing. You poor thing!

  31. Tara on February 25th, 2008 10:29 am

    One of my less-proud memories of when my son was an infant is of him screaming inconsolably while I, tears streaming down my face, screamed back at him to SHUT UP, SHUT UP, JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP. And then I laid him in his crib, went to my own bed, had a good cry all to myself for about 10 minutes, and then was able to deal again.

    If I were there, and if you were okay with it, I’d give you a hug. It will be okay. And you’re doing GREAT, trust me!!

  32. Josh on March 3rd, 2008 7:34 pm

    Milk bonging huh. Reminds me of a video I once saw where the band 311 challenged their fans to drink a gallon of milk in ten minutes and they could win $311. Their fans had the same result as your baby. If you ever wondered what happens to adults in that situation, there’s plenty of lovely examples on YouTube.

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